Supreme court: the law must compel the bilingualism of judges, according to Raymond Théberge

News 7 December, 2017
  • Screen Capture, University of Moncton
    Raymond Théberge

    Maxime Huard

    Thursday, 7 December 2017 17:31

    Thursday, 7 December 2017 17:31

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    OTTAWA – Two days after he created controversy by seeming to diminish the importance of bilingualism at the supreme Court, the appointed commissioner of official languages has pleaded on Thursday for a law that would require the government to appoint bilingual judges.

    “If we want to ensure in the future that the supreme Court judges to be bilingual, it would be necessary to codify it. It should be ensured that there is a law to sustain the bilingualism,” said Raymond Théberge before the standing committee on official languages.

    Called to confirm his position, he repeated to be in favor of a law, and to be personally in favour of bilingualism of judges.

    Mr. Théberge has been recognized to be “very poorly expressed” Tuesday, when he seemed to put in doubt the position of the government as well as that of his predecessor, Graham Fraser, in favour of bilingualism at the supreme Court.

    “In principle, I think; in practice, up to what point are we going to represent the diversity of canada to the supreme Court?” he had said. The commissioner-designate, whose recent appointment has yet to be approved, had not been able to explain, because a technical problem has forced the interruption of the session.

    Of passage in front of the committee just before Mr. Théberge Thursday, the minister for Heritage has distanced itself from comments made on Tuesday by the commissioner designated by insisting to say that it is “completely independent”. “Our position is clear. It has appointed two judges to the supreme Court, and two are bilingual. We will continue to do so,” said Mélanie Joly.

    Questioned in turn by the conservative Bernard Généreux and the new democrat Thomas Mulcair, Ms. Joly has declined to say whether the government intended to legislate in this folder.

    The members of the opposition were reminded that the minister voted against the bill the new democrat on the bilingualism of judges. “When the government’s draft bill, if she does not like the bill against which it has voted on 25 October?” asked Mr. Mulcair.

    The tone is mounted so that the minister wanted to dodge the questions of the member for Outremont in responding to a question. The chairman of the committee, the conservative Alupa Clarke, had to call them to order a few times.

    At the end of the meeting, the committee decided to formally recommend to the House of commons the appointment of Raymond Théberge.